YWAM Middle East


From the Palm islands built into the waters of the Arabian gulf, to the tallest building in the world, the UAE, or the Emirates as we call them, keep redefining what money and crazy ideas can achieve. But behind the glamour are people still in need of a relationship with God. Come join us as we live and love the people of this beautiful country.


Population: 5.6 million
Emiratis, however, comprise only 19% of the population of the UAE.
The rest of the population is South Asian, Arab and Iranian with some Westerners.   English is the main language of business.
Languages spoken are Arabic (official), Persian, English, Hindi, and Urdu.

All Emiratis are considered to be Muslim and Islam is the official religion (76%), along with a sizeable number of Christians (9%) and Hindus and other religions.

The population of the Emirates continues to grow rapidly, mainly due to expansion of the foreign work force.

The UAE gained independence in December 1971 (from the UK).
There are 7 emirates with 7 ruling families and 7 leaders.  The president, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan is the ruler of Abu Dhabi and appoints the council of Ministers.


The United Arab Emirates are a group of 7 small independent emirates (states), which joined together to become the UAE in 1971.  Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the most developed and best known.  Oil wealth, tourism and business have fueled rapid growth and draw millions of visitors annually.  Churches have relative freedom to operate in the Emirates. However these churches are expected serve the foreign workers only, and it would be potentially dangerous for an Emirati to attend (both for the church and for the person themselves).  A small number of Emirati believers now meet together in house churches.


The UAE's per capita GDP is on par with those of leading Western European nations. Its high oil revenues and its moderate foreign policy stance have allowed the UAE to play a vital role in the affairs of the region. For more than three decades, oil and global finance drove the UAE's economy. However, in 2008-09, the confluence of falling oil prices, collapsing real estate prices, and the international banking crisis hit the UAE especially hard.

The UAE has essentially avoided the "Arab Spring" unrest seen elsewhere in the Middle East, though in March 2011, political activists and intellectuals signed a petition calling for greater public participation in governance that was widely circulated on the Internet. In an effort to stem potential further unrest, the government announced a multi-year, $1.6-billion infrastructure investment plan for the poorer northern emirates and aggressively pursued advocates of political reform.

Ranked 6th in the world for crude oil exports, the UAE is known for its oil money and building boom.

Long Term Opportunities

Due to restrictions on long term visas and the extremely high cost of living in the UAE, most mission workers either start their own business or find employment in the thousands of companies in the country. Some are in professional roles like teaching, sports coaching, engineering or the medical profession; others are in management; others in sales or service roles. Because the UAE pays foreign workers according to what they would receive for the same work in their home country, most construction and service roles (maids, cleaners etc) are South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Nepali, Sri Lankan etc) or Pilipino. Other roles depend on the persons’ qualifications and levels of education. YWAMers wanting to move to the UAE should first look for employment (because different job opportunities and people’s skills are so unique we can only offer very limited help in finding work in the UAE). Once they have found employment, we will connect them with the other team members currently serving there. YWAMers serving in the UAE are involved in prayer and then look for opportunities to share the gospel in their work situations and in the society they are living in.


5.6 million people somehow use 13.7 million mobile phones!

The world’s longest grandstand is the Meydan Racecourse in the United Arab Emirates. It hosts the Dubai World Cup, was inaugurated in 2009 and its connecting building is 1.6 kilometers in length.

The world’s longest automated metro system is in Dubai. 87 trains operate on this 75-km-long network that has no drivers at all.

‘Opulence’ is the word to describe the UAE, especially Dubai:
The Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping mall, its internal area covers 5.9 million square feet.  When the Burj Khalifa was inaugurated in January 2010, it officially became the tallest building in the world.
The Atlantis aquarium in Dubai has over 200,000 fish species.

And continuing the opulence in neighboring Abu Dhabi:
The $3 billion Emirates Palace hotel is 1 kilometer long and features 114 domes and over a thousand Swarovski crystal chandeliers.

Language Learning

The most common languages spoken for business in the UAE are English and Hindi. There are significant numbers of Arabic speakers (both Emirati and other Arab workers) but even many of these will speak some level of English. Arabic languages schools in the UAE would be expensive. Probably a better option for learning Arabic is in Oman.



Many nationalities receive tourist visas on entry and most others can pre-organize visas (with cost) to enter the UAE.  However, for staying long term, people usually need to find employment.


Cost of Living

Housing is very expensive. Petrol is cheap and food costs are on par with Europe or the USA. Many companies will offer a package of housing and children’s’ schooling, depending on the level of the job being applied for.


Short Term

There are many opportunities for short-term ministry in the UAE.
  • Prayer and Worship
  • Ministry with churches and youth groups.

There are many congregations of different nationalities and languages worshipping at different times all through the week.- Friendship sharing, bridge building and careful outreach. (Though the Emirates may give the impression of being an open and free society, security police are very watchful and open sharing like giving out literature etc will quickly draw a response from them).

The population of the UAE is over 90% expatriate workers. Emiratis are rich and often stay secluded in their expensive homes or exclusive clubs. They do however go out for shopping, walking on the beach, camping in the desert, etc.  Dubai Shopping Festival is a time when many people come from all over the Gulf, which makes reaching out easier.


Security Situation

The UAE is safe and stable with relative freedom. However, open sharing would quickly attract the attention of security police.


Who to talk to

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